Saudi Arabia will call for a summit between oil-producing countries and consumer states to discuss soaring energy prices, Information and Culture Minister Iyad Madani said yesterday.
The kingdom also will work with fellow Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to "guarantee the availability of oil supplies now and in the future," the minister said after a meeting of the Saudi cabinet.
Madani said the kingdom had informed "all oil companies it deals with, as well as countries that consume oil, that [the kingdom] is ready to provide them with any additional oil they need."
Meanwhile, in the United States, the average retail gasoline price for regular rose another penny yesterday, to $4.02 a gallon. Analysts said the price was likely to keep rising as distributors and retailers increased prices in response to the unprecedented oil-price increases Thursday and Friday. The combined gain for those two days was 13 percent, or $16.24 a barrel.
Oil futures retreated yesterday after Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. said he would not rule out government intervention to stabilize the dollar - boosting its value against the euro - and after Saudi Arabia's announcement.
Light, sweet crude for July delivery fell $4.19 to settle at $134.35 a barrel in volatile trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
In Philadelphia and its four suburban counties in Pennsylvania yesterday, the average pump price for regular was up a penny from Sunday, to $4.09 a gallon, AAA Mid-Atlantic said. The average in the three suburban counties in South Jersey rose three cents, to $3.96.
The Philadelphia price has increased 40 cents a gallon in the last month, and it is up 44 cents in South Jersey, according to AAA.
If oil prices remain near $139 a barrel, last week's record high, gasoline prices will likely rise an additional dime in coming days, said Tom Kloza, publisher and chief oil analyst at the Oil Price Information Service in Wall, N.J.
"The numbers do have some catching up to do," Kloza said. "There's a bit of a tape delay that happens with gasoline."
AAA spokesman Geoff Sundstrom said he believed prices could rise an additional 2 to 3 cents.
Consumers are cutting back on their consumption of gasoline in response to the high prices, but gasoline producers have little choice but to keep raising prices when the cost of their chief raw material - crude oil - rises.
At $150 a barrel - the Morgan Stanley price prediction that helped ignite Friday's oil rally - gasoline would cost about $4.40 a gallon, Kloza said.
Many investors buy commodities such as oil as a hedge against inflation when the dollar weakens. But yesterday, the effect reversed: The dollar gained ground, making oil less effective as an inflation hedge. Also, a stronger dollar makes oil more expensive to investors overseas.
Madani, the Saudi cabinet minister, said his country would work to ensure there would be no "unwarranted and unnatural oil-price hikes that could affect international economies, especially those of developing countries," he said.